The ancient art of the Jedi meets the ancient art of kabuki in a new staged performance from Disney Japan.
On Thursday night, the Walt Disney Company’s Japanese division live-streamed a kabuki adaptation of the Skywalker Saga from Star Wars, featuring familiar characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess-turned-General Leia, Kylo Ren, and Supreme Leader Snoke.
Adam Driver portrays Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher), in the Hollywood feature films from Disney and Lucasfilm. In the kabuki performance, titled Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo XI plays Kylo, according to The Guardian.
The story combined elements of the latest Star Wars trilogy — including that moment from Star Wars: The Last Jedi when Kylo faced Luke on the planet Crait — and plots “from the days of feudal clan rivalry” for a reported audience of 50 online lottery winners, per the U.K.-based publication.
A Star Wars kabuki show is what we call synergy. George Lucas, the father of the Star Wars universe, partly drew from Japanese cinematic influences for his saga, including the 1958 film The Hidden Fortress from Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
Lucas said of that film, “I remember the one thing that really struck me about The Hidden Fortress, the one thing I was really intrigued by, was the fact that the story was told from the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story. Take the two lowliest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view. Which, in the Star Wars case is the two droids, and that was the strongest influence. The fact that there was a princess trying to get through enemy lines was more of a coincidence than anything else. In my film, the princess is more of a stand-and-fight kind of princess. In the beginning, in one of the first drafts, I did have a little bit more of her and a Jedi, an older Jedi, trying to escape, but then it evolved into the story of Luke.”
“[It] will depict the sagas of love and loss for the Skywalker family that stretch back more than 40 years,” Ichikawa said in an earlier statement. “It will be a show that both Star Wars fans and kabuki fans will enjoy.”
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